Assertiveness and the value of communication

Assertiveness and the value of communication

You may have heard of the word assertiveness and you don't know what it means, or maybe it's the first time you hear it. Be that as it may, it is certain that it is having influence in your life, either by its presence or by its absence.


  • 1 What is assertiveness?
  • 2 What is not assertive?
  • 3 What is assertive behavior?
  • 4 What is assertiveness good for?
  • 5 What wrong beliefs hinder the practice of assertiveness?

What is assertiveness?

Assertiveness is one of the cornerstones of the psychotherapy process, and mandatory stop on the path of well-being.

It has to do with the communicative capacity and with recognizing one's own value and personal rights. All people have the right to defend our opinions, to ask for what is necessary and to say “no”.

Thus, we could say that assertiveness It is the ability to self-affirm our own rights, respecting ourselves and others (¹). That is, when we are assertive we can clearly express our needs without assaulting others.

All people can develop this capacity, which will make our lives more satisfying and will liberate us largely from frustrations and resentments.

What is not assertive?

A submissive or passive attitude is not assertive and neither is an aggressive attitude. What do both consist of?

Submissive or passive behavior

A person who usually behave submissively it tends to express itself with phrases like:

  • "Alright… "
  • "It doesn't matter" (When it does)
  • "Nothing happens ..." (When it does happen)
  • "As you want ... I don't care ..."

At the same time he will constantly ask for forgiveness or give justifications or explanations that have not been requested.

Talking about nonverbal behavior, the person hesitates to speak, leaves unfinished phrases or is not heard well by the low tone of voice. You may make little eye contact or, on the contrary, try to please by paying excessive attention to the interlocutor.

With all this kind of behavior the person is transmitting that he is placed below his interlocutor and that he will not defend. You are trying to avoid conflict (inferiority position).

Aggressive behavior

On the contrary, it is sometimes confused with the assertive to think that you have the right to say everything you think without calibrating if you disrespect the person in front of you. It is characterized by phrases such as:

  • "Because of you… "
  • "You always ..." or "You never ..."
  • "You are ..."

Orders and interruptions are constant.

Nonverbal expression goes through a loud voice, threatening or sharp gestures, invasion of personal space, fixed gaze. The aggressive person is placed above his interlocutor (position of superiority).

What is assertive behavior?

The assertive person is placed in an attitude of equality with respect to others, and manifests directly without disrespecting others (as in the case of aggressive behavior), or disrespecting oneself by ignoring their real needs and feelings (as was the case with submissive behavior) .

The nonverbal behavior is safe and consistent with the message What is happening. The look remains but not threateningly. The tone of voice is firm and clear, but not aggressive.

What is assertiveness good for?

Assertiveness is the communicative style that underlies a healthy self-affirmation in the world. Thus, it serves to:

  • Be able to make decisions according to their own values.
  • Being able to say "no" without feeling guilty.
  • Improve self esteem.
  • Express wishes, feelings and opinions.
  • Create links in our life where we are treated and treat others with respect and dignity.

You may also be interested in our article on assertive communication.

What wrong beliefs make assertive practice difficult?

There are thought patterns that we must detect and discard, such as:

  • I have to be there to attend to what everyone needs.
  • It is wrong to say no.
  • I always have to be right.
  • I can't "look bad" with anyone.
  • I can not make mistakes.
  • If I avoid a problem it will disappear.

Therefore, how can I start practicing assertiveness? (²)

  • Make requests clearly. Example:"Please can you… ?"; "I can't do it, so I ask you not to insist."
  • Message-me: The behavior of the other is clearly described without judging him, and then he describes a feeling that produces in me and its consequences. It ends with a solution proposal. Example: When it happens ______ I feel _______ and that's why I do ______. Why not ______?
  • Empathic assertiveness: It's about taking into account the feelings of others and your own. Example: "I understand that you ______, but I______."
  • In the face of criticism: Admit a criticism if it is the case, but separating it from being a good person or a bad person. Example: "I may have been wrong, but it does not mean that I am_____."
  • Technique to process the change: Move the focus of the discussion to the analysis of what happens between the two, as if we were seeing each other from the outside. Example: We're getting off the subject, why not _____ ?; "We are both very tired."

Definitely, From an assertive behavior we can express ourselves respecting others and making ourselves respected!


(¹) (²) Castanyer, O. 2018. I want to learn to love myself assertively. Click on Brouwer. Col. Serendipity.